The latest dust-up involving transgenderism has ensnared Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson in its tentacles, which now seem to reach into every aspect of American life. In comments last week, Carson had the audacity to suggest that some women in shelters, many of whom have faced abuse from men, are not comfortable with “big, hairy men” being in the facilities.
In a department-wide email on Friday Carson sought to tamp down the controversy, pointing out that it was women’s groups who were raising these concerns with him: “During a recent meeting with local staff in San Francisco, I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women, and that HUD’s policy required the shelter to accept—without question—the word of whoever came in, regardless of what their manifested physical characteristics appeared to be.”
A vital two words in those remarks are “without question,” by which Carson means that the only operable standard at the moment is what an applicant to a shelter claims as his or her sex. This is a nonsensical standard, bereft of any scientific evidence, and which places the feelings of men who believe they are women over the rights of vulnerable women to feel safe in their shelters.
But this was not good enough for trans activists, who refuse to believe that any opposition or even questioning of their assault on thousands of years of consensus on the differences between men and women is anything but pure bigotry. The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, had this to say: “Ben Carson has spent his career in politics expressing disgust toward the existence of transgender people. From his comments on trans people in the military to his support for a proposal that would literally permit emergency shelters to turn away trans people who are homeless to his unqualified support for a White House that has made attacking trans people a mantra, it is hardly surprising that Ben Carson would blatantly dehumanize trans people in his official capacity.”
The sleight of hand here is remarkable and worth noting. Carson is accused of expressing disgust at the existence of trans people, something he has never done. What is the evidence that he feels this disgust? It’s solely the fact that he wants public policy to have an actual standard beyond “I woke up feeling like a woman today” in determining public policy in areas where men and women are treated differently.
This hyperbolic bollocks from leftists arguing that anyone who does not tow their line to the T is some horrible bigot is, more than anything else, what stands in the way of effective public policy related to transgenderism. It is a “my way or the highway” approach that does not allow for nuance or even discussion on a matter that is nowhere near a consensus in the United States.
While there is no evidence that Carson feels “disgust” about trans people — in fact, he has specifically said that they deserve the same love as anyone else — there is evidence to suggest that the medical doctor who became a famous surgeon does not believe men can become women. On Tucker Carlson’s TV show, he used an analogy in which he said if woke up one day and felt like he was Chinese, that would not make him Chinese, which is obviously also true.
Millions of Americans do not accept the metaphysical assertion that people can switch their sex. There are millions who do believe it, or at least say they do. This is exactly the kind of situation where those in charge of public policy, like cabinet secretaries, have to balance these disparate beliefs rather than give primacy to one set out of deference to the current mores of identity politics.
Do those who are attacking Carson really believe that the correct response for him to give women’s groups who raise these concerns is to tell them they are being intolerant and should just accept this new reality, and then refuse to take action or even bring up their worries at his department? What an absolutely outrageous suggestion.
Carson is not just the HUD secretary for trans people and the political left; he is the HUD secretary of all Americans, including those with reasonable concerns about women’s safety in shelters, prisons, and other women-only facilities. What is telling is that this current outrage is not about a policy put in place. It’s not even about a specific policy proposal. It is about having that conversation at all.
Amid farcical calls from Democrats for his resignation, Carson is handling the controversy the right way. With a calm demeanor, a respect for the dignity of all people, and doubtless support from his boss in the Oval Office, he is insisting that this important conversation take place and not be sidelined by leftist bullies whose arguments can’t match their outrage. Put more bluntly, he is doing his job, doing it well, and should stay exactly the course he has set himself on.